Late Rally Pushes Tigers Past Davidson

Auburn defeated Davidson 7-2 on a cold Tuesday night at Plainsman Park.

Auburn, Ala.--It took longer than expected, but Auburn's offense woke up in the bottom of the eighth for five runs to break open a tie game on the way to a 7-2 victory over Davidson at Plainsman Park. Reliever Bradley Hendrix got the win on the mound, giving up four hits and no runs in three innings of work as Auburn improves to 4-4 while Davidson falls to 4-3.

In a game where Auburn's offense struggled to get anything going until late, Tony Caldwell was the only Tiger with multiple hits with two. For the night Auburn had just nine hits while Davidson had the same total. Coach John Pawlowski said he was pleased with the perseverance his team showed in finding a way to win late.

"It's one of those games, mid-week games, where guys have to be ready to play," Pawlowski said. "I thought we were ready to play, but their lefty (Chris) Kennedy did a great job. We just couldn't get anything going offensively.

"I thought the difference was we pitched and played defense," he added. "Paul Burnside did a good job for us and Bradley Hendrix did a great job coming out of the pen for us. We played solid defense. To me that was the difference, we pitched and played defense."

The story for the Tigers was the pitching of senior Paul Burnside. In his second start of the year, the Montgomery native allowed two runs on five hits in six innings. While he got a no-decision, Burnside said it was a very positive outing for him and something to build on.

"It felt okay," Burnside said. "The mid-week games, it's nice just to get out there and throw strikes and get some innings and let the defense work and they did it. There weren't any errors in a nine-inning ballgame. When you do that in the SEC you've got a lot of chances to win.

"The building block is definitely the consistency," he added. "It's got to get a little bit better. It got a little better today than it was last week, which is a positive. Now hopefully I can build on that going into Sunday."

Davidson struck first against Burnside, but it took until the fifth for that to happen as both starting pitchers were good early. Leading off the inning, Chris Fitzpatrick hit a sharp ground ball off the glove of Wes Gilmer at first base. The ball caromed into right field and Fitzpatrick wound up on second with a double. After a ground ball moved the runner to third, Burnside walked Brett Shore to put runners on first and second. A wild pitch and sacrifice fly later and Davidson held a 2-0 advantage.

Just like they had done much of the early season, the Tigers answered back in the bottom of the inning as Brian Fletcher doubled off the wall in left to lead things off. Second baseman Justin Hargett then reached after being hit by a pitch to give Auburn some life. Back to the top of the order, Trent Mummey put down a bunt that was thrown away by the Davidson third baseman to load the bases with nobody out.

The red-hot Joseph Sanders was due up next for the Tigers and his ground ball to third forced out Hargett, but allowed Fletcher to score. On the play Fitzpatrick threw the ball away at first, allowing Mummey to advance to third. That proved to be big as Ben Jones' ground ball to first pushed across Mummey to tie the score at two.

Davidson's Shore got things started with a single up the middle off Hendrix, but was caught stealing by Caldwell for the first out. Hendrix then finished off the Wildcats, setting up Auburn's offense in the bottom of the inning. Leading off, designated hitter Hunter Morris singled to right field and was replaced by pinch runner Bradley Ray.

That looked like a bad move though as Ray was caught stealing for the first out, but Caldwell answered the bell with a double to left field. Having a solid night for the Tigers, Gilmer earned a walk to bring shortstop Casey McElroy to the plate. Getting a pitch to drive, he lifted it deep to left for a double. Caldwell scored on the play to put Auburn up 3-2.

Following a walk to Brian Fletcher to load the bases, Hargett's ground ball to Danny Weiss was fielded cleanly, but the throw was low to the plate and went to the wall. The error allowed both Gilmer and McElroy to score and put Auburn up 5-2. Continuing the onslaught, Mummey ripped a triple to right field to score two more and give the Tigers a five-run lead heading to the ninth where Hendrix held on for his first win of the season.

Auburn and Davidson will play second of the two-game series Wednesday night at 6 p.m. at Plainsman Park. The Tigers will send freshman Dexter Price to the mound looking for his second win of the season.

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